6 Key Takeaways from SPF Americas 2016

October 27, 2016
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

took place on October 4-5 in Chicago and gathered about 600 participants who attended over 50 sessions. This year’s SPF Americas was particularly interesting because, in addition to an impressive line-up of speakers from industry-leading companies, the event also featured top industry analysts from Verdantix, Forrester and LNS Research, as well as industry associations such as the National Safety Council (NSC), the National Association of Environmental Management (NAEM) and the Air & Waste Management Association (AWMA).

As with all SPF events, a wide array of topics were covered at SPF Americas 2016. If you did not have a chance to attend, or if you attended but are curious about important topics that you may have missed, we got your covered. Here are six interesting takeaways from SPF Americas 2016 that give you insights into what’s happening in EHS, Risk Management, and Sustainability.

1) Anybody Can Make a Difference

The theme of SPF Americas 2016 was “heroes”, and how every worker has the potential to be hero in their organization and make a difference. Whether an employee that had a strong potential to result in injury; implements a process improvement that of an activity; using ingredients that are less harmful to human health or the environment; or successfully that need to be mitigated because they could prevent the organization from meeting its objectives, a single person has the power to make an organization more compliant, effective or resilient. However, the key is to use the right software tools and technologies that will provide the data needed for people to make a difference, and transform that data into meaningful insight and information.

2) It’s About Enabling Customer Success

SPF Americas Keynote PanelIt’s tempting for software vendors, when engaging with clients, to focus on technology, features and functionality. Similarly, it’s tempting for organizations to oversimplify things and make very binary determinations based on lists of features and costs. But making an investment in enterprise software is about making an investment in a journey that takes an organization well beyond the initial software implementation. In fact, it’s a journey that never comes to an end because it consists of enabling ongoing value and success throughout business operations through streamlined data entry, management and analysis, as well as other improvements. During SPF keynote and breakout sessions, attendees learned how to create, maximize and sustain value throughout the enterprise. Value created during the day-to-day use of the software system becomes the real measure of customer success.

3) Mobility Is an Essential Requirement for EHS Excellence

By now, this is a well-known adage among safety professionals: For every occupational fatality, there are many injuries. For every injury, there are many near misses. And for every near miss, there are many at-risk behaviors. This is based on Heinrich’s Accident Triangle Theory and other similar models, and it means you can be pro-active in safety and prevent future incidents if you identify and reduce at-risk behaviors. This is where mobility can make a big difference. During the opening SPF keynote, Lend Lease gave a powerful overview of its use of and the benefits achieved, as well as a live demo. Lend Lease understands that reporting observations is an effective way to reduce at-risk behaviors and improve safety. The company has leveraged to increase considerably the number of observations. Today, more than a majority of observations at Lend Lease are reported through mobile devices.

4) Beyond Mobility: Wearables, Sensors and IoT

SPF Americas Keynote DemoTwo years ago, at SPF Americas 2014, we featured prominently our , which have evolved significantly since then and are today widely used by many organizations, including Lend Lease. But in the world of technology, two years is a lifetime, which is why it’s important to look at the next technological innovations. Wearables, sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT) will be increasingly part of various EHS applications. For example, , or receiving a real-time alert on a mobile device reminding a worker to wear PPE when entering a facility, as a result of a signal received from an iBeacon device, which was shown last year at SPF Americas 2015. EHS vendors that already have a mature mobile offering today that’s been deployed for a number of years, and that are already taking steps to integrate wearables and IoT technologies are best placed to help organizations achieve the greatest value and be future-ready in an ever-evolving technological landscape.

5) Technology Must Make Sense of All the Data

Many years ago, the problem was about not having enough data. Now, we have an overload of data. According to IBM, 90% of the data in the world today was created in the last two years alone. In addition, according to SAS, only 0.5% of the data collected is being analyzed. Technology, if applied wisely, helps to alleviate the problem of data overload, not amplify it. Let’s look at two examples how this is achieved. First, if software is designed by humans, then it should also be designed for humans. The software must present the data in a way that is understandable by users. The must bridge the gap between abstract data and sentient users. Second, data needs to be translated into insight and information through reporting analytics and predictive analytics. What’s the point of learning lessons from past events if you can’t apply them to the future? Software must do more than provide access to data. It must also provide actionable intelligence to make companies more sustainable, and allow users to make a difference in their organization.

6) Software Implementation Requires Strong Focus

SPF Americas BreakoutSoftware implementation is a hot topic that was prominently featured at SPF Americas 2016. It was covered by the keynote panel on the path to a successful customer journey, moderated by Anna Clark, as well as case studies presented by Enablon clients during the breakout sessions. A successful software implementation has a number of unavoidable ingredients: leadership participation, constant communication with stakeholders, definition of requirements, identification of success criteria, pilot sites, etc. But there is one aspect that does not get much attention and that can make or break an implementation: strong internal focus. The implementation team must be strong and manage multiple, varied requirements across the user base in an effective way by pushing back against some requirements, and focusing only on those that are strategic or aligned with the organization’s main objectives.

was the last in a this year around the world. But the 2017 series of SPF events is right around the corner, with SPF Melbourne taking place in February 2017 in Australia. Keep following our blog as we continue to share valuable insights from SPF Americas 2016 and the SPF events that will take place in 2017.

To learn more about EHS, Sustainability and Risk trends, we encourage you to read the NAEM 2016 Trends Report: Planning for a Sustainable Future, which presents the ideas and issues that will shape EHS and Sustainability Management in 2016 and beyond.

NAEM 2016 Trends Report: Planning for a Sustainable Future